Nowadays, teens have to contend with so many hardships. From being hungry to learn, to bullying to the general angst of just existing as a teenager in an oversaturated social media world. Imagine knowing that you have a mental illness and not such any mental illness, but schizophrenia. A condition that makes its subject spiral out of control with no rhyme or reason. Most parents and friends would chalk it up to just being moody and young. But, for Adam (Charlie Plummer) dire consequences related to his condition during his senior year would change his life, perspective, how he viewed love and how those who loved him would shift in ways he could’ve never imagined.
For Adam, after his parents split, he called on personalities to provide him with coping skills for the dumpster fire that was his brain. There’s his free spirited Rebecca (Anna SophiaRobb), the loyal and temperamental bodyguard (Lobo Sebastian) and that suppressed horny teenager Joaquin (Devon Bostick) who says exactly what he thinks complete with a new love – Mya(Taylor Russell) and Step-Dad Paul(Walter Goggins).
Upon first glance, one will unmistakably confuse this flick for an intense drama swirling around mental illness. However, Words on Bathroom Walls, based on the fantabulous Julia Walton book, is nothing of the kind. It’s a tender, unique and unconventional love story that reinforces how one can lose their secrets when you let people in. It’s scary at best, but when you let that special someone in your life all challenges seem to melt away.
Most dialogue is heard from Adam’s POV and is comical with an unusual spin into the world of mental illness. The tenacity of his mother (Molly Parker) is eye-opening and inspirational proving a mother’s love and commitment doesn’t end after birth.
Taylor Russell is proving her talent has no boundaries, as this role sets her up for an already spectacular career trajectory. Her portrayal of Mya is layered, complicated and warm with a maturity of an actress twice her age. The same goes for her better half Charlie Plummer. His portrayal of Adam leads you to believe he’s really experiencing these voices in his head convincing himself and everyone around him that the damage is far too deep to be loved. Both actors will tear your heart to shreds.
At the end of the day, you are left wondering if love and honesty can cure crazy. It can’t cure it…but it can curb it. You have to let people discover all your dark and twisted places inside, while knowing and loving you inspite of it all. With gorgeously sensitive and graphic direction from Thor Freudenthal and creative visualization cinematography from Michael Goi, Words on Bathroom Walls is streaming now produced by Roadside Attractions providing a much welcome alternative to the usual films approached on this subject.